Congratulations to Young Eagle Sophia Shay, EAA 292424, who successfully completed her first solo on her 16th birthday, April 28, in a Cessna 152 at Alexandria Field in New Jersey. She lucked out on being able to fly on that beautiful, mid-70s and low-wind day: her instructor is normally not available during weekdays and an anticipated TFR affecting her home airport had been pushed back few weeks.
“As soon as the wheels of the plane touched down on the runway, I felt a mix of so many different emotions hit me all at once,” she said.”
Although Sophia has been a lifelong aviation enthusiast, attending her first EAA AirVenture Oshkosh at just 3 months old, she said the moment she knew she wanted to become a pilot came after a short hop in her dad’s 180 to a local airport for breakfast years ago.
“The thought of being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want just amazes me, and I would love to have the freedom of doing that, too,” she said.
Sophia is heavily involved in EAA’s volunteer community, for the past seven years donating her time the week before and the week of Oshkosh to the organization’s business development team. She and her sister have a tradition of counting down the days until AirVenture beginning at Christmastime.
In fact, it was while volunteering in Oshkosh that Sophia was given her first Young Eagles flight at age 9, in the GlaStar operated out of Pioneer Airport.
“The pilot even let me fly a little,” she said. “That was the best day ever. It was such an awesome experience getting to fly over one of my favorite places ever and seeing it all from above. The Young Eagles program means so much to me! I feel that this is such an amazing program and really helps get younger generations involved in aviation.”
Sophia strives to one day become a CFI, and after attending a rudder workshop with her dad at the Zenith factory a few years ago, the pair is now building a CH 750 Cruiser together. She hopes to fly it to Oshkosh once it is complete.
Congratulations again, Sophia, and good luck in all your aviation endeavors!